Pain--that's what her life had been reduced to. From the fire in her soles, to the screaming in her limbs, all she knew was pain.
You mustn't give in, my child. Whatever he does, whatever he threatens, you mustn't give in.
I must be cracking, smiled Daphne weakly. I could swear that was my mother's voice.
"What are you smirking about," asked Malthius, with a contemptuous sneer. "Things are about to get a lot worse for you!"
"I just heard my mother," Daphne replied. "She wants me to be strong."
Malthius threw his head back and laughed.
"Really, your Highness, I hadn't expected you to start hallucinating until tomorrow."
Hold on, my daughter! You must hold on!
"But it hurts so much!", she cried.
Splendid, thought Malthius, picking up the first needle. She's closer than I thought!
"It's okay, my dear," he whispered into the Princess's ear. "This will soon be over."
With that, the Count jabbed the needle into the ball of her right foot. Daphne screamed at the sudden stab of pain. She screamed louder as he drove another needle through the top of her big toe and again as he drove one into her heel.
"Your feet are perfect pin cushions, my darling," Malthius tittered, as he jammed yet another needle into the instep of her left foot. "Would you like me to make the pain go away?"
"YES!" she screamed.
"What would you do to get me to take the pain away?," he taunted as he pierced the ball of her left foot with another needle.
"YES,ANYTHING!," she screamed, bucking wildly in a vain attempt to get away from the agony in her soles.
"Then you're ready."
"READY FOR WHAT?"
"To accept my proposal, stupid!"
Daphne almost forgot the horrendous pain in the soles of her feet.
"What are you talking about?"
"Your husband is dead, you're free to marry. A marriage to you would clear my name with the King. An acceptance of my proposal from you would end your nightmare. Don't you see, Princess? It's a win-win!"
She stared at Count Malthius for a long moment, realizing, for the first time, just how crazy he really was. Then, incredibly, she burst into helpless gales of laughter.
"Stop laughing at me."
," Daphne managed when she could catch her breath.
"I SAID STOP LAUGHING AT ME YOU STUPID CUNT!"
This only caused her to laugh harder. In the back of her mind, she remembered an old saying her father had taught her. Something about the Devil hating laughter. She didn't know if that was true of Lucifer, but it certainly seemed true of the devil in front of her.
"WHAT'S SO FUNNY YOU STUPID BITCH?" he screamed in her face.
Daphne finally composed herself enough to respond.
Although the Princess seemed new to the fine art of insulting people, she managed to get the job done.
"HOW IS THIS IN ANYWAY FUNNY?"
"What's funny is the idea that I would ever marry you! What's funny is the idea that a marriage to me could ever erase your treason! What's funny... is the idea... that you could ever erase the hate in my heart...for you... for...MURDERING DIRK!"
The look on Daphne's face as she screamed the last two words caused Malthius to drop the needle he was holding. As hard as it was for him to believe...she actually scared him! The look on her face was the look of a lioness.
"I d-don't need to take this insolence from you!", he stammered. "In case you haven't noticed, my dear, I'm the one with the power in this room!"
"Over a helpless girl, tied to a rack. What a man!" Daphne herself couldn't believe the words coming out of her mouth, but they gave her strength. She knew they might be the last words she ever spoke, but she didn't care. This bastard took her power, not as a Princess, but as an individual; as a human being; as a woman. Now she was taking it back.
Malthius roared with rage. Like a petulant child, he stormed over to one of the single-tailed whips hanging on the wall.
"YOU THINK YOU KNEW PAIN BEFORE? I'LL TEACH YOU THE REAL MEANING OF PAIN!"
As the whip connected with her feet, Daphne's world, once again, became agony; made worse by the fact that she still had the needles in her feet. Daphne screamed, and continued to scream as Malthius struck her soles a second time. It didn't take long for the Princess to lose count as the sadistic monster continued to rain blow after blow on her tender soles. Each blow of the whip produced a fresh cut. The final horror, before she passed out, was the sight of blood on the Count's whip.
When his arm got tired, Malthius finally stopped. He didn't know exactly when Daphne passed out, nor did he care. Looking at the bloody mess that passed for her feet, he knew he went too far. Sure, a good cleric or wizard could have them looking as good as new, but that wasn't his concern. She had rejected him, and now she was going to die. But he would see to it that her last hours were spent in agony. And he knew how to wake her.
Malthius stomped over to the furnace. Picking up a poker, he wondered just where he would apply the heat.
No, he thought as he stoked the fires. Been there, done that.
Her breasts perhaps?
Again, no, he mused. Just not dramatic enough.
Of course, there was only one way to properly wake her Royal Highness. There was only one place that would teach her the consequences of rejecting him; of not accepting his seed.
Malthius slowly sauntered toward the Princess; the red, glowing poker in his hand.
I hope you weren't planning to have any babies my dear, he mused.
Suddenly the door flew open! The sight almost made Malthius drop the hot poker. There, bruised, battered, and bleeding, stood Dirk the Daring. And he looked pissed.